A Federal High Court in Abuja has been urged to restrain the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) from further implementing its reintroduced N65 on cash withdrawal from others’ banks’ ATMs.
The new CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele had on August 13 announced that a customer, who makes cash withdrawals from the ATM of banks other than his/her, would be charged N65 at the fourth withdrawal within a month.
The policy took effect nationwide on September 1.
Emefiele’s predecessor, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi had on December 2012 abolished the earlier N100 charge per withdrawal on others’ ATM.
A rights activist, Timi Frank argued in a suit marked: FHC/ABJ/CS/659/2014 that the decision by the CBN governor to reintroduce charges of cash withdrawal from ATM was “retrogressive and a negation of the cashless policy currently being propagated by the CBN.”
Frank contended, in his statement of claim, that such charges were not only discriminatory against the poor, but capable of discouraging savings on the part of the low income earners.
He noted that such charges were alien to developed societies as no customer would be charged any fee in a country like the United Kingdom for using other banks’ ATM.
The suit, initiated via a writ of summons, filed on September18 by Frank’s lawyer, Olugbenga Adeyemi, has the CBN and Emefiele as defendants.
The plaintiff seeks perpetual injunction restraining the defendants and their agents from engaging in further implementation and deduction of the N65 charges and an order setting aside the directive reintroducing the charges.
He also seeks a declaration that the directive of the defendants for the reintroduction of ATM charges for cash withdrawals made on others’ ATMs in the amount of N65 from the fourth withdrawal in a month is inhumane, callous, unconscionable, illegal, null and void.
Frank is also praying the court for a declaration that the reintroduction of the N65 charges “is retrogressive, anti people, exploitative and obnoxious,” and a declaration that it negates the cashless policy of the CBN. No date is set yet for the hearing of the case.
Meanwhile, the central bank yesterday stressed the need for increased adherence to corporate governance by banks.
Emefiele said this while speaking at the CBN/FITC Continuous Education Programme for directors of banks and other financial institution in Lagos.
The CBN governor who was represented by the Deputy Governor, Financial System Stability, Dr. Kingsley Moghalu said the central bank would continue to prioritise corporate governance.
Emefiele said: “The central bank as everyone knows has taken corporate governance seriously for many years. There are people who say that governance was not a major contribution to the global financial crisis that the crisis was caused by an asset bubble and by some other economic factors.
“I disagree and I’m sure the central bank disagrees because the main reason for the global financial crisis in our view was the failure of risk governance by banks.”
On role and the responsibilities of directors in financial institutions, he agreed with statement made by the Governor of the Bank of England who recently said directors of banks should be able to take personal and criminal liability for reckless risk taking.
He added: “The responsibility of the board of directors on governing to create value, governing to build enduring institutions. If you look at banks, those banks that are very well governed you would see it running through into their corporations.”
He urged directors to encourage their institutions to lend to the real sector, saying: “There is also a larger question of the role of banks in our economy as a developing country. Is it possible for us to develop a model of banking in which banks become real agents to the development of the real economy or would it continue in a situation which you find a lot of banks not lending to the real economy but lending to corporate and just making their money.
“There would assessment of bank directors and if you are found as not performing, going forward the central bank would not approve the renewal of appointment of members of board of directors if we find that you have not performed as you should.”
Also speaking on through a pre-recorded message, the African Corporate Governance Network (ACGN) Chairman, Mrs. Jane Valls said: “I sincerely believe we need to change the mind set and we need to see effective corporate governance as a performance driver.
“Following the financial crisis of 2008, the banking sector worldwide went through a crisis of trust. After six years of intense regulatory effect and management action, banks have financial institution are still the least trusted sectors in the whole global economy. This must worry all of us given that trust is the foundation of banking.
“Regulatory is not enough, we need transformative leadership. Leaders who have courage in their conviction, leaders who are role models, leaders who are willing to continue learn. So continuous learning is important.”